John Kerry Gets To Take Off His Mask In A Plane, But Not These 12 Toddlers

John Kerry Gets To Take Off His Mask In A Plane, But Not These 12 Toddlers

The fact that Kerry was allowed to fly while airlines have kicked off toddlers, including autistic children with medical mask exemptions, exposes the performative hypocrisy of the mask police.
Elle Reynolds
By

Former secretary of state and 2004 failed presidential candidate John Kerry got away with taking off his mask on an American Airlines flight on Wednesday. The Tennessee Star obtained and posted a photo of Kerry, who is now President Biden’s climate envoy, and noted he was neither eating or drinking at the time.

In response to Kerry claiming on Twitter that “if” he dropped his mask it was “momentary,” a fellow passenger told Fox News that Kerry’s mask was off for five minutes. After Twitter users called on American Airlines to respond, the airline said it was “looking into” the situation.

There are problems with a culture in which it’s normal to publicly shame people for dropping their masks. But the fact that Kerry was allowed to fly while airlines have kicked off toddlers for the same behavior, including autistic children with medical mask exemptions, exposes the performative hypocrisy of the mask-police industry.

American Airlines policy threatens to remove maskless passengers and possibly bar them from future travel, as do most other airlines, including United, JetBlue, and Spirit. But while American Airlines neglected to enforce these policies against Biden’s special climate envoy, American and other airlines have employed them to kick these families off of their flights.

Carter Kimball

Carter Kimball is a 4-year-old boy with nonverbal autism. When he and his parents boarded their Spirit Airlines flight out of Las Vegas on Monday, they brought a doctor’s exemption showing that Carter need not wear a mask because of his medical condition.

The airline kicked the Kimball family off of their flight anyway, even though the family says wearing a mask makes Carter “harm himself” or hold his breath. After receiving backlash, Spirit has promised to add room for medical exemptions to its mask policy.

Cebastian Lewis

Cebastian Lewis is 3 years old and autistic. Back in September, he and his family attempted to board a Spirit Airlines flight to Chicago. Cebastian kept his mask on as he boarded but then removed it while in his seat.

After the airline asked his family to get off the aircraft and they refused, the airline made everyone on the aircraft deplane. The airline also called the police, according to Lewis’ mother, Zana Shelton.

Makenna Leshinsky

Two-year-old Makenna and her family were traveling from Michigan to their Florida home in December, when American Airlines kicked them off their flight.

“They’re kicking us off and making everybody deplane because Makenna won’t keep her mask on,” Makenna’s mother, Briana, said in a video recording she took of the incident. Her daughter was eating during the time she had removed her mask, Leshinsky added, but the airline still brought a federal air marshal onboard to confront them before forcing them off the flight.

Dina Bruck

JetBlue kicked Chaya Bruck and her six kids off their flight from Florida to New Jersey in August, after her 2-year-old daughter Dina wouldn’t wear a mask.

The flight crew “came over to me and told me my daughter was 3 years old,” Chaya Bruck said. “I told them she’s 2.” JetBlue policy currently requires passengers 2 years old and older to wear masks, but Bruck insisted that the website at the time said “children who are not able to maintain a face covering are exempt from the requirement.”

After other passengers on the plane took up for Bruck and her children, all passengers were forced to deplane. “There is zero tolerance,” a flight attendant can be heard saying in a video from the incident.

Edeline Orban

Eliz and Erhard Orban were kicked off a United Airlines flight from Denver to New Jersey in December when their 2-year-old daughter Edeline refused to keep her mask on. “We’re banned from United forever because a 2-year-old would not put on a mask,” Eliz said in a video of the incident she posted to Instagram.

“We’re over here holding this mask on her face,” Erhard told the flight attendant in the video. A few minutes later, after kicking the family off of the flight, an airline representative can be heard telling the family “there’s a no-tolerance policy.”

The family told Fox News later that Twitter posted a “sensitive content” warning on the video, and Instagram threatened to delete Orban’s account.

Lyon Davis

American Airlines removed Lyon, his mother Rachel Starr Davis, and his grandmother from their flight after the 2-year-old wouldn’t wear his mask in September. “I’m shaking holding this piece of cloth to my son’s face so that we can take off,” Davis said.

American forced everyone to deplane then refused to let the Davis family reboard. Another passenger who had tried to help Lyon put a mask on was also kept from getting back on the flight, according to Davis.

Hayes Jarboe

Two-year-old Hayes and his mother, Jodi Degyansky, were on a Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago when he took his mask off to eat a snack, according to Degyansky. The airline staff insisted the toddler put his mask back on. Even though Dgyansky was then able to put her son’s mask back on, she said, the plane returned to the gate so staff could escort them off the flight.

In a photo posted by MSN, Hayes has a pacifier in his mouth as he’s held by his mother in an airplane seat.

Ava Breiterman

Southwest Airlines booted five-year-old Ava Breiterman, who is autistic, and her mother Kelly off their flight in September. Even though Ava had a doctor’s note exempting her from wearing a mask, Southwest forced them off the plane, sending their bags on without them.

“I was trying to get her to put her mask back on, she wouldn’t,” Breiterman said. “The manager came back in and said, ‘Sorry ma’am, we’re going to have to deboard you.'”

Zupda and Zara Choudhry

Safwan Choudhry, his wife, and daughters Zupda and Zara were forced off their WestJet flight in Canada after the airline called the police. Choudhry said the family was kicked off because Zara, who was 19 months, wasn’t wearing a mask. WestJet said it was because of three-year-old Zupda.

“It started with my toddler and once we got a mask on her, they turned to my 19-month-old infant and said ‘every person on the plane has to wear a mask or the plane can’t take off,'” Choudhry said.

After police confronted the family and the family did not leave the aircraft, the entire flight was canceled.

Alyssa Sadler and Her Son

Alyssa Sadler was flying with her 3-year-old autistic son from Midland, Texas to Houston when Southwest Airlines booted them from their flight. “He was screaming,” Sadler said, adding that the plane had left the gate but turned around once the crew discovered that her son wouldn’t wear his mask.

Sadler said she had a doctor’s note about her son’s autism, but the airline still kicked her, her son, and her 1-year-old daughter off the flight.

A Jewish Family With An 18-Month-Old Baby

Frontier Airlines kicked a family of Hasidic Jews off a flight in February, eventually canceling the entire flight. The family says it was because their 18-month-old baby was unmasked. Frontier Airlines claims other members of the family were also refusing to wear masks, but video of the incident shows only the baby without a face covering.

One woman said she saw airline staff high-fiving after the incident, and thought she heard them say “we did it.”

If an airline is going to have a “zero tolerance” policy for maskless babies, then there’s no excuse for giving Biden’s buddy John Kerry a pass.

Elle Reynolds is an intern at the Federalist, and a senior at Patrick Henry College studying government and journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.

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